Many vratas and vows are observed generally to gain something like riches, health, wealth progeny etc. normally riches or wealth is called Lakşmī or Śrī and many mantras or hymns are designated as causing or giving Lakşmī driving away Alakşmī. References to such rituals or performances can be found in many later texts like Ŗgvidhān, Nirnayasindhu and Chaturvarga Chintāmanī and many Pusraņās also. If we try to trace the origin of such customs and rituals, many interesting aspects and features come to our hand and they make us wonderstruck. Mostly it is observed that the original intention is something different and its development through ages gets altogether a different forms or various modifications or alterations around the same centre or nuclear. These modifications can be set to be sociological as well as religious influence through some provincial customs and beliefs and adding to the mythology regarding a particular concept. The custom or vrata of Lakşmīpūjā can be claimed to be such type and deep /// study desire to be undertaken here, is hoped to trace out these various features of the deity Lakşmī along with the aims and methods of her worship.
There are various occasions when this pūjā is prescribed. Normally, it is the deity Lakşmī i.e. worshipped, sometimes along with some other deities. If we e the origin of the concept of Lakşmī, we meet with some interesting and altogether different aspects. The word Lakşmī is derived from the root Lakshya/// , which means to indicate or to note. From this root the word Lakşma is formed (which indicates) following the Uņādi rule(4.160(590)). From this Lakşman the feminine word Lakşmī is formed. In the vedic literature we do find occurrences or characteristic. In the same sense is used the word Lakşmī also. Firstly it is found in the R.V. ref… which describes the thinking, of these thinking of the speech Bhadrā Lakşmī are the words. There it is said that a good sign, auspicious indication. In the A.V. , in 1.18.1, we find that the word ////// Nirlakşyam is used to express a desire to drive away bad signs or marks (on the body), and A.V. 7.120 (115), a request or a prayer is expressed to drive away the ominous Pāpī Lakşmī //// signs and bring in the auspicious and holy Lakşmī.** This whole hymn refers to various types of marks which can be classified as Śivā, Punyā on one hand and Pāpīp or Pāpīşţā on the other hand. The root Lakş can also mean to notice that things which catches the eye and therefore we can say that in the hymn A.V.1.18.1, whatever is related to this mark, ominous or belonging to the forehead is wished to drive away to the enemy and whatever is auspicious sign is desired to be brought in. this hymn describes various signs that can be noticed on the feet or on the hand or anywhere on the body, even in the hair or in the appearance. The unlucky signs or the marks that or noticed in women are also enumerated in this hymn and the hymn in the 7th kāņda, references is made to the 101 signs that are seen, born with the man’s birth, they can either be inauspicious or also they are described to be auspicious i.e. Śivā. The word Lakşmī is used in the plural also with the attribute Puņyā..wholesome and the fire- Jātavedas that knows every thing and the golden armed god Savitŗ are prayed to bring in auspicious marks or signs.*** These signs are described as making one to fall or when the having of running away- patayālu…. It can be inferred from such description that some signs are temporary, they can be vanished and can reappear.ref.. Abhichaskanda/////
The prayer to the omniscient fire and gold handed Savitŗ indicates a desire for shine or luster. This mark, the underlying concept of the later goddess Lakşmī being, or consistencey of the shinning wealth. In the Paip.Sam. of A.V., we find the occurrence of word PāpaLakşmī. From this vedic reference it can be said that Lakşmī originally mean a mark or sign, or forthcoming luck.
The concept of shinning Lakşmī having the golden color and catching the eye related to dazzling luster of gold is noticed in the famous Śrīsūkta, which is considered to be a Khila Sūkta occurring before the beginning of the 6th mandala. It is argued that, as it occurs in the beginning of the mandala, it may be included among the Agni hymns****. As the contents of the hymn shows, it describes the traditional Lakşmī, the riches or wealth incarnate. One feature is noticeable here that the Jātavedas is again requested to bring in, for the singer. This is a Lakşmī, which will stay for ever.
From the description of this Lakşmī, can be noted many salient features around which are woven many stories or myths that occur in later texts like Puāraņs.
She is described as having golden colors wearing the garlands or strings of gold and silver. She is full of gold. She has horses in front and seated in the chariot, she becomes glad by the sounds of elephants. Through her, the seer wants to have abundant gold, cows, horses and people. She is described to be covered by gold, bright like flame, satisfied and satisfying others. For the first time we find the reference to her being situated in lotus and having like the lotus. She is shinning pleasantly and a blaze by fame, in this world and employed by the gods. She is magnanimous or noble. She has lotus at the centre or felly. /// Padmanemim//. She is also described as having the luster like fire. She can be noticed through fragrance/// Gandhadvara always unassailable and she is described as ruler of all the beings. Her golden color is always emphasized; she is described as Pingalā, Suryā, Suvarņā, Hemamālinī and many times Hiraņamayī. Bilva is said to be her (favorite) tree born of Tapas. The fruit of this tree is also expected to drive away the internal delusion and the external misfortune or absence of Lakşmī. To her the seer desires to surrender, so that his ALakşmī may disappear. He wants to win fame and prosperity and to destroy hunger and thrusts and also dirt which are the forms of ALakşmī. Here this ALakşmī is called Jeyastha//. Also Lakşmī is prayed to drive away the lack of wealth and absence of prosperity, from the house. This attribute Jeyastha of the word ALakşmī is picked by the later tradition, which considers ALakşmī as the elder sister of Lakşmī. However Jeyastha can be considered as overpowering or the large quantity of Alakşmī. Moreover we can notice that a concept of absence is given a concrete and positive form in the later tradition.
A desire is always expressed in this hymn that this Lakşmī will always stay in the house, never will she go away and the waters also will flow n the prosperity.****apa sravntu…
This Lakşmī is also described as wearing the garlands of lotuses, being moister, possessing lotuses, and bringing in all types of wealth. Thus we noticed that the concept of Lakşmī is related to every type of abundances and prosperity. Thus a fair complexion or pleasant fragrance or cleanliness or cleanness or sanctity, satisfaction of minds i.e. fulfillment of speech along with the absence of flaws or drawbacks, abundance of food and fame are the multifarious forms of Lakşmī. Every positive concepts and the absence of negative ideas is the form of Lakşmī.
This sūkta or hymn describing Lakşmī is known as the Śrī Sūkta in the tradition. It is also regarded as a displeer of a misfortune- Alakşmī. It is known as Śrī Sūkta due to its employment in various texts like Ŗgvidhāna and other ancillary literature like Ātharvaņa Pariśişţa etc and History of Dharmaśāstra. Different mantras from this hymn occur in various Samhitās and Gŗhya Sūtras. In the Vāj. Sam.39.4, the mantra ‘Manasā Kāmākūi… occurs, which is considered to be a mantra recited at the time of Pūrņāhūtī. One very interesting aspect noticeable about some mantras of it is that, they are referred to by Mānava Gŗ. Su., in a ritual called Şaşţīkalpa. This is a vidhi or ritual to be performed on the 6th day. (of the first lunar fortnight)
This ritual is not found in any other texts so far and the mantras describing this deity along with the mantras from ŞrīSūkta ( Gandhadvara… ) and Aśvapūrņām (Aśvapūrvām), Rathamadhyām. This ritual is prescribed for a student. He is expected or prescribed to offer oblation of cooked rice in the evening after the sun has set. Goddess Şaşţī is addressed in these mantras in the style of ŚrīSūkta. Nearly twenty-six terms are used describing this goddess and Śakra is requested to bring in Şaşţī. This Şaşţī deity is also prayed to disburse, wealth and she is pleasing, prosperity, Lakşmī, Āditya, always successful, and good minded, speech and success. This deity is called the prosperity and being very rich in lakes. (Atisarsvatī). Thus this Şaşţī deity is identified with Lakşmī and also called Śrī. She is also called Kāmā and also Kāmapatni. (desires) So this speak of the aspect of the deity as fulfilling the desires. Moreover she is called Padmacāriņī. All these aspects are like those described of Lakşmī in the ŚrīSūkta. The 6th day of the bright half of the lunar month marks increasing luster to be completed on the full moon day in order to get such bright luster. The student is prescribed to observe this vrata. Nīlamata Purāņa also states the same point. The feature of this vrata is that, he is asked to eat as much as given to him. This aspect can be noted to be elaborated later in the practice of observing past or whole of the day of Lakşmīpūjana. Further Śakra is prayed to bring in Lakşmī. This aspect also gets developed in the worshiped of Lakşmī on Kojāgirī Pourņimā,i.e. the new full moon day, the month of the Āśvina. In this worship Lakşmī is worshiped with Indra, who is expected to come with his vehicle Airāvata, utilizing the identification Śakra with Indra. Thus this ŚrīSūkta has to contribute various aspects to the popular worship of Lakşmī on different occasions. A similar ritual to be performed on the second day of the bright half of the lunar in every forth month is prescribed in the Bodhāyana GŗhyaŚeşasūtra.This ritual consists of the preparation of the holy water with the hymns addressed to the waters and various oblations by uttering the names of different deities. These names consists the deity Şaşţī and also Şaşţīpārśada’s, the aim of this ritual is not clear, but there is only the similarity of this performance of ritual on a fix day and Şaşţīdevatā. In the Ma. Gr. Su., it is also stated this performance can be carried out for six months or in the three months, occurring on both Şaşţī’s, in brighter and darker half of the months. Before considering these aspects latest taken in to consideration the treatment of this sūkta in a Tāntrika text called Lakşmītantra. Whole of this text is in the //// of answers of Lakşmī to the quarries of Indra regarding the nature of Lakşmī orŚrī, with her spouse Nārāyaņa or Vişņu and also various rituals related to her hymn i.e. ŚrīSūkta. Here it is said that Śrī and Vişņu churned the great ocean of Śabdabrahman composed of ŗks, sāmans and yajus, in order to make the creatures happy from that immersed two sūktās, one Puruşa another ŚrīSūkta. The later was accepted by Lakşmī, thus this sūkta belongs to her. Further in this chapter the employment of each ŗk of this hymn is stated variously, (verses from 22to25) majority of which relates to the worship of Lakşmi, as the consort of Vişņu. Further it is said that there are fifty- three names of Lakşmī and they are explained one by one in the verses.(37to42). This tantra mainly builds the mythological figure of Lakşmī to which many aspects are added by the purāņās like Brahmavaivrata, Bhāgavata and many rites or vratas got developed around this goddess in the later centuries.
It is noticeable that later Upanişad’s like Sāmarahasya Upanişad,Nārāyaņa Pūrvatāpa Upanişad, Mahānārāyaņa Upanişad,Rādhopanişad, and Vanadurgopanişad and many others mentioned Lakşmī, sometimes as the consort of Vişņu or the sometimes as the Mūlaprakruti. Nŗsinhatāponişd tells that Omkār and the Sāvitrī along with Yajurlakşmī are the parts of one entity they give plenty of wealth to one who knows this.